The Quebec community of Inukjuak is asking the Canadian government for help to free a pod of nearly a dozen killer whales trapped underneath a large mass of sea ice. The pod was discovered as they gathered around a single hole in the ice about the size of a pickup truck trying to get oxygen. Local resident Siasie Kasudluak said that she believes the Orcas were trapped when the temperature suddenly dropped and that the “hole appears to be shrinking in the freezing temperatures.”
Killer whales, also known as Orcas, are the largest of the dolphin species. The marine mammal is also considered one of the most powerful of predators; feasting mostly on seals, sea lions and occasionally on whales. The killer whale can grow anywhere from 23 to 32 feet and weigh up to 6 tons.
Traveling together in a family group, or pod, there can be as many as 40 individuals counted. Their home range tends to be colder, coastal waters but they can also be located in areas from the Polar Regions to the Equator.
Because there is evidence indicating that “one or more killer whale types may actually be separate endangered species”, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) changed the whale’s conservation status from conservation dependent to data deficient in 2008. This means that the current information available is not sufficient to properly assess the killer whale’s conservation status.
Mayor Peter Inukpuk called upon the Canadian government to send an icebreaker to help the killer whales escape to open water. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is currently assessing the situation. According to spokesman Frank Stanek:
The Fisheries and Oceans “are exploring every possible option, but will only be in a position to determine what – if anything –can be done once their specialists arrive on site.”
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